Bibb school system presents $105M wish list

The Bibb County school system is moving forward with its five-year school facilities plan to build a $10 million Heard Elementary School. The plan also calls for building four other elementary schools for about $40 million.

The school system’s 2009-2013 facilities plan presented to the school board recently calls for the eventual closure of seven aging Bibb elementary schools — Barden, Bernd, Burke, Jones, Morgan, Porter and Rice.

It lists building Heard and four new schools as its priority.

“None of these would start until we have adequate funding to address them,” said Bob Flowers, Bibb’s capital program administrator. “We may not start anything right away.”

Students from the schools being closed would be sent to the four new elementary schools. Roofing and mechanical system repair needs would be addressed at Williams, Union, Carter and Brookdale elementary schools.

The total facility needs for the system totals $105.7 million.

Under the state’s funding formula, Bibb would qualify for $47 million in construction reimbursement from the state and the system would need to find the remaining $58 million, Flowers said.

School officials could consider an education local option sales tax continuation as one method to raise the remaining money, the plan indicates.

“That could be one way,” Flowers said.

The school system will wrap up its current education penny sales tax to collect up to $165 million in 2010. That penny sales tax has built a new Central High School, Southwest High, Howard High, Early Childhood Center and renovated schools, including Ingram-Pye Elementary.

The system could also consider issuing bonds to generate money, Superintendent Sharon Patterson said.

School systems are required to submit a facilities plan every five years to the state in order to qualify for state funding for new building projects, called capital outlay.

For the past few months, the system’s construction department has been working with a Georgia Department of Education appointed survey team to develop Bibb’s plan.

On that team was Dave McMahan, facilities director of Houston County schools; Jay Brinson, superintendent of Jasper County; Hayward Cordy, superintendent of Johnson County; C.B. Mathis, facilities director of Peach County schools; Donna Hinton, superintendent of Washington County schools; Charles Ledbetter, superintendent of Dublin City schools; and Jake Grant, assistant superintendent of Barrow County schools.

The survey team toured Bibb schools and reviewed Bibb’s future facilities plan against projected student enrollment. They recently approved the plan.

The Bibb County school board also approved the facilities plan at its committee meeting last week and is scheduled to officially approve it at their board meeting tonight.

Once approved, it will then be sent to the state board of education for approval.

Once the system finds funding and starts construction, it would be eligible for the state reimbursements, Flowers said.

To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.